The Toronto Raptors, playing with a playoff-like mentality were able to just edge out the battle tested (and fully healthy) San Antonio Spurs 87-82 on their home court. It’s funny what one player can do to change the fortunes of a team. Especially when it’s the same guy who not too long ago inexplicably spent entire games in a track suit.James Johnson, who earned the spot after helping the Raptors erase a 20 point deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers, put up likely his best performance of the season.
This weekend has brought upon a strange turn of events. After putting up two abominable performances against a decimated Milwaukee Bucks squad and the lowly Brooklyn Nets (ugh), the Raptors turned around and took down two Western playoff teams. This victory was certainly no small feat.
The Spurs were not resting anyone. The second winningest trio in NBA history, as well as the reigning NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard were all at full strength to fight for their coaches’ place in history. The Raptors saw their rings, and raised them their best defensive performance in recent memory. Be excited. With that, lets look at Cage’s Keys to the Game.
This game was an offensive struggle as the Raptors only put up 87 points on a pedestrian 43% shooting. So why did we give them a generous B score? The Raptors who in their struggles played a game that would make Rudy Gay himself cringe; firing with reckless abandon from three. In this game the team only took 13 shots from the “suburbs”, going for the inside out approach. Let’s hope that this style of play is a sign of things to come.
When you hold a team that is considered by many to be the gold standard for offensive basketball to 33% shooting, you’re doing something exceptionally well. Backed by the four blocked shots by Jonas Valanciunas, many of which on first ballot Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. The most impressive statistic; the Raptors held the big four of Duncan, Leonard, Ginobili, and Parker to an unbelievable 15-47 from the field. Dominant.
If we had to say something negative about tonight’s performance it would be the Raptors work on the boards. The Raptors got beat on the offensive glass 20-6. It wasn’t all bad on the glass however as Valanciunas turned in a beastly performance on the boards grabbing a total of 16.
Game Ball: James Johnson
James Johnson basically cocked that joint back, and banged it on Terrence Ross‘ and Tyler Hansbrough’s minutes with his performance tonight. With 20 points on 80% shooting and the game sealing defensive board, Johnson took the starting role and ran home with the game-ball tonight.